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Sudan security arrests second opposition leader over criticism of militia crimes

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June 8, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese security authorities have arrested a second opposition leader for criticising crimes and atrocities committed by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia, while the Umma National Party announced they have rejoined an alliance of opposition parties that refuse to participate in proposed national dialogue.

The leader of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, Ibrahim al-Sheikh, was arrested on Sunday in Alnuhud town in North Kordofan after a meeting where he slammed the RSF militia which is accused of committing war crimes and atrocities against civilians in Darfur region and South Kordofan.

Al-Sheikh is facing the same charges of defamation against the government troops, breach of public peace, as Sadiq al-Mahdi who is in jail since 17 May.

A leading member of the opposition Unionist Nasserist Party, Satih al-Haj, who is also a lawyer said they formed a committee composed of 42 lawyers to defend al-Sheikh who faces death penalty.

The Sudanese presidency refused last month to intervene to release the former prime minister who is favourable for the national dialogue process.

Analysts said the presidency which, considers criticism of the government militia as “red line”, wanted to show the opposition they do not tolerate any statements against the paramilitary force tasked with fighting the rebels.

The spokesperson of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Yasir Youssef, told reporters on Sunday that al-Sheikh has been arrested in line with the law. He further told reporters that his party has been calling to “abide by the law and the spirit of national responsibility”.

"As political forces, government and opposition, we have to support the political dialogue and the freedoms that we have without engaging in political tactics," Youssef said. He declined to comment on the Sheikh’s case pointing that the issue is now under investigation.

Speaking at the press conference organised by the NCF to denounce the al-Sheikh’s detention, a leading member of the National Umma Party (NUP), Meriam al-Mahdi, announced that the party had reintegrated into the opposition alliance.

“The national dialogue is outdated, and talking about it a waste of time,” she stated.

The NUP suspended its membership in the NCF coalition almost a year ago after a divergence related to the need to reshape its structures and other political issues.

(ST)

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